minstrel: Lyres

sca_bard at yahoo.com sca_bard at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 17 08:51:36 PDT 2008

Silvershell Music makes a lyre:
I have one of these; it is good, although I think a different bridge would make it louder.

And so does Michael J King:
I wish I could afford one of these.

Several online stores carry "Davidic" lyres, which are hypothetical (I think) reconstructions of ancient Jewish instruments.  Not sure if you'd be interested in those or not.

There are even others; you might consider joining the lyre mailing list:
and asking around there.  Despite the name, the conversation often covers lyres and lyre-ish instruments from many places.

Benjamin Bagby tunes pentatonically (C-D-F-G-a-c would be an example of the pattern); Hucbald (our period source) indicates it would have been diatonic (C-D-E-F-G-a).  I used to tune pentatonically, but have been trying to work with Hucbald's tuning; I've done plucking (like Bagby) and block-and-strum both.  Both tunings and both techniques have advantages and disadvantages.  I can blither on at length, either on-list or off, if you are interested.

I would really, really encourage you to try improvisation on your lyre.  Mine is what got me into it, and it's transformed the way I look at early music and performance.  It's also, incidentally, what Bagby does - although I'm sure months and years of practice have many of his "themes" in his fingers, he does not have a "score" for his performance.

My always in-progress notes on improvisation are here:
if you are interested.  Learning to improvise means no wrong notes, no running out of repertoire, and (IMO) deep personal satisfaction coming from creating.  I can play melodies alone, accompany spoken, chanted or sung poetry, or provide interludes between sections of stories.  It's very versatile.

 - Teleri

crystal verdon <roseofamber at hotmail.com> wrote:    .hmmessage P { margin:0px; padding:0px } body.hmmessage { FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY:Tahoma }   Oh, yes! The Beowulf performance was what got me thinking about it. I am an actor by trade and want to incorporate more bardic arts in my SCA play. I have told some stories at bardic events, but would very much like to add some simple music into my storytelling. I am not a skilled musician, but the few times I've had the opportunity to play with a harp, it felt very natural. So, I am leaning toward a lyre. Does anyone know where one can find a simple and inexpensive lyre on which to learn? Also, sources for music? I have found the site about how to make one, but I am not ready for that yet...
 Thank you for your advice!

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